Microbubbles controlled by acoustical tweezers for highly localized drug release

By controlling microbubbles with acoustic tweezers, researchers have shown that it is possible to release drugs in an ultra-localized manner. This first biomedical application was published in the journal PNAS on the 22nd June 2020.

  • 24/06/2020

Local release, assisted by an acoustic trap, of nanoparticles transported by microbubbles © Diego Baresch / I2M Local release, assisted by an acoustic trap, of nanoparticles transported by microbubbles © Diego Baresch / I2M

Microbubbles are used every day as contrast agents in medical sonography, and are the subject of intense research for the delivery of therapeutic agents. There are a number of options available to manipulate these microbubbles, including the use of light and sound, although the potential of the latter remains largely unexplored.

In their research published on the 22nd June 2020 in PNAS, Diego Baresch, a CNRS researcher at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering (I2M - CNRS, Arts et Métiers Paristech, Bordeaux INP and University of Bordeaux) and Valeria Garbin, a researcher at the Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands), show that it is entirely possible to manipulate microbubbles through the use of “acoustical tweezers”. This tool, developed in 2016, uses an acoustical beam to trap an object without contact.

In using these acoustical tweezers through layers of bio-mimicking and elastic materials, they successfully surpassed the limitations of optical tweezers, which cannot propagate through opaque media (such as in vivo tissue). As a result, the scientists have opened the way for a broader application of acoustical tweezers in biology and biomedicine, for instance for the highly-localized, reproducible, and controlled delivery of medicine, or for in vitro tissue engineering using stem cells.

Scientific publication

Acoustic trapping of microbubbles in complex environments and controlled payload release. Diego Baresch & Valeria Garbin.

Scientific contact

Diego Baresch
Researcher at the I2M